The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ tag

Join Parliament Women’s Task Force In Standing With Malala


Via WalkFree.Org and A World At School

Every young person should have the opportunity to learn, but that’s not currently the reality for over 57 million out-of-school children around the world. We know that when children do not have the chance to get an education, conditions are ripe for modern slavery. Instead of going to school, they are forced to work in the streets, fields or mines.

Last October, people across the globe united to send thoughts of hope and love to a brave young girl fighting for her life in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Taliban tried to assassinate Malala Yousafzai because of her strong voice in the fight for women’s rights and youth education. Their gunmen boarded her school bus and shot her in front of her peers — but Malala survived and she hasn’t stopped fighting.

Over the past two weeks, the basic right to education has been under attack around the world – from the school shootings in Nigeria to Pakistan, where 14 young female students were massacred as their bus taking them home from university was blown up by extremist militants. We were once again reminded of the continued need to stand behind Malala and her cause.

On July 12 – less than a year after she was attacked – Malala will mark her 16th birthday by speaking at the UN. She’ll be delivering, to the highest leadership of the UN, a set of education demands written for youth, by youth.

Join us in uniting for Malala – and for girls’ education — once again. 

Sign the letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledging your support to her cause.

Polishing Shoes for Communal Harmony in India and Pakistan

by Sabur Ali Sayyid
from Common Ground News Service

Islamabad – Hunched on the floor of Gurdwara Sis Ganj, a Sikh temple in New Delhi, Khurshid Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General, earnestly polished the shoes of devotees flocking to him either in delight or amazement. To him, polishing shoes served as penance for the brutal killing of a Sikh man at the hands of the Taliban two years prior in Pakistan. Engaging in this lowly act, for him, relieved the burden on his conscience about the problems that minorities face in his region. He believes they deserve a better life, free of intimidation and coercion.

Some may disagree with Khan’s philosophy of redemption. Khan, himself a Muslim, took time out during his visit to India to shine the shoes of devotees at places of worship, regardless of whether they were Sikh houses of worship or Hindu temples. In doing so, he wanted to show his respect for humanity and for other religions.

No one would dispute the fact that communal harmony in South Asia – particularly in India and Pakistan, where each year a large number of people are killed in the name of religion – is far from satisfactory. And no significant progress can take place in this area unless it is backed by the introduction of a multipronged approach to bring about greater communal harmony.

The genesis of Hinduism and Sikhism lies in South Asia. It has been welcoming to Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths, such as Jainism, Taoism and Shintoism. Peaceful coexistence has been a hallmark of this region. Though there have been instances of great strife, this tradition of coexistence is equally a part of the region’s history.

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Gift of Blood Ends Pakistani Town’s Bloody History

By Rick Westhead
from Toronto Star

BASTI MAHRAN, PAKISTAN—A single act of kindness, profound because it was so rare and unexpected, transformed this sun-bleached village in a remote corner of the Punjab.

A Hindu man gave his blood to save the life of a Muslim woman who had lost too much in childbirth.

In the seven years since, the 1,600 Muslims and 1,400 Hindus in this town live in peaceful co-existence, extraordinary because sectarian violence has marked the histories of Pakistan and India since the bloody partition of 1947.

“I was afraid, for sure. But it was the right thing to do,” says Bachu Ram, the blood donor. He is smoking a cigarette in the home of a Muslim village elder, who once was so steeped in hatred that he led the charge on the clinic to take Ram’s life.

Hatred and violence once defined life in Basti Mahran. Muslim men routinely raped Hindu girls — “we would have 20 cases a year,” says one local. Muslim men beat Hindus with sticks and fists, seemingly with tacit approval of the local police. Cattle belonging to Hindu families were slaughtered if they strayed too close to Muslim homes.

Mahar Abdul Latif, the host who now pours Ram tea, spent three years during the late 1990s as a member of the extremist religious group Jaish-e-Mohammad. He patrolled the rugged mountain passes and valleys of Kashmir, a region claimed both by India and Pakistan, killing Hindus when they crossed his path.

“I have done much I am ashamed of,” says Latif, a 37-year-old father of three. “But we are friends now. Our kids are friends, too. They study and play together.”

Click here to read the full article and watch the video

September 30th, 2011 at 10:50 am

Interfaith harmony only way to get rid of war on terror

from Daily Times

Interfaith harmony is the only way to get rid of the so-called war on terrorism, said IA Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Friday.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the national peace song at Ali Institute, IA Rehman said that the people belonging to all religions should join hands against extremism. He urged people to create interfaith harmony and ensure protection of their rights and religious freedom.

The event was organised by Giyan Foundation and Heinrich Boll Stifting. A large number of civil society activists, writers, youth and scholars were also present on the occasion. The event was followed by an Interfaith Peace Conference, which was presided over by IA Rehman while Akram Gill was the chief guest. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Country Manager Britta Peterson and Dr Arfa Syeda were also present on the occasion…

Click here to read the full article

July 17th, 2011 at 10:50 am

Islamophobia’s Implications for the United States

by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy and Akbar Ahmed
from Huffington Post

Amid a surging fear of Muslims — Islamophobia — in our nation, it is time for all of us to improve our understanding of Islam and our relationships with Muslims — if not because it is right to do this morally, then because it is in our best interests nationally.

The fact is that we live in a world alongside one and a half billion Muslims, and regardless of the desire of some on the fringes of society, our Muslim neighbors are not going anywhere. A failure to understand this population and its religion is bad enough. Choosing to intentionally demonize those who follow this religion and provoke the anger of the Muslim people qualifies not just as insensibility but insanity.

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“National Interfaith Peace Conference” Meets in Islamabad

National Peace and Interfaith ConferenceFrom The Daily Times

ISLAMABAD: The participants of a seminar on Sunday urged all patriotic citizens and leaders belonging to various faiths to join hands for interfaith harmony in order to defeat the anti-state elements.

In a resolution passed unanimously, they condemned the prevalent terrorists activities, against the non-Muslims in particular, and called upon the authorities to nip this trend in the bud to protect the rights of minorities all over the country.

Ministry of Minorities Affairs in collaboration with The Interfaith Council for Peace and Harmony (ICPH) organised the conference titled ‘National Interfaith Peace Conference’ at a local hotel to promote interfaith coexistence.

Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti presided over the function.

The resolutions said Pakistan was a peaceful country and all efforts would be made for the social security of minorities and the elements destabilizing the law and order should be taken to task. “We condemn terror related activities in particular against non-Muslims in Faisalabad, Lahore and everywhere and demand that the government arrest the killers of Iftikhar Gilani’s son,” the resolution said.

The resolution demanded complete protection to sacred places of all religions in the country. “Terrorist attacks on religious places /shrines, schools, hospitals, state institutions, offices of law-enforcement agencies, public and private buildings are the worst example of barbaric act,” it said.

Click here to read the entire article.

July 28th, 2010 at 6:00 am

Union Square Hosts First New York Sufi Music Festival

New York Sufi Music FestivalFrom The New York Times

Hands waved overhead. Voices shouted lyrics and whooped with delight. Children were hoisted onto parents’ shoulders. In the tightly packed crowd a few dancers made room to jump. T-shirts were tossed to fans from the stage.

Yet in the songs that Abida Parveen was singing, saints were praised. They were Islamic saints, the poets and philosophers revered by Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.

It was the first New York Sufi Music Festival, a free three-hour concert on Tuesday in Union Square, and it had music from the four provinces of Pakistan, including traditional faqirs who perform outside temples, Sufi rock and a kind of rapping from Baluchistan.

The concert was presented by a new organization called Pakistani Peace Builders, which was formed after the attempted bombing in Times Square by a Pakistani-American. The group seeks to counteract negative images of Pakistan by presenting a longtime Pakistani Islamic tradition that preaches love, peace and tolerance.

Click here to read the entire article.

July 25th, 2010 at 6:00 am